TCNJ Students Shine in Business Competitions

TCNJ Students Shine in Business Competitions

In March, The College of New Jersey’s School of Business received perhaps its biggest accolade to date when it was announced that the school was named one of Business Week’s “Best Undergraduate Business Schools.” The recent success of the business school is in no small part tied to the individual successes its students have enjoyed over the past academic year.

Throughout the academic year, students in TCNJ’s School of Business compete against themselves, in activities such as Lion’s Apprentice, and against their counterparts from other “B-Schools.” Listed below are highlights from some of the competitions in which TCNJ students excelled over the past year. These events gave students an opportunity to test their newly acquired skills and knowledge in solving real-world problems. It’s all part of a culture in the School of Business that values active student engagement within and outside the classroom.

Institute of Internal Auditors Essay Competition

Three accounting students from TCNJ swept the essay contest sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). The contest was “designed to encourage undergraduate students to reflect upon contemporary issues that affect business and the internal audit profession,” according to the IIA announcement. Rachel Fetterman ’10 took first place and a prize of $2,000; Agnieszka Szczurko ’10 took second place and a prize of $1,000; and Hee-Jun (Larry) Joo ’10 took third place and a prize of $500. The awards were announced in conjunction with IIA’s spring conference.

SHRM Northeast Regional HR Games

Laura Cenker ’08, business major; Danielle Damiano ’09, business management major; Rob Screpka ’08, business management major; alternate Jeff Joffe ’10, business major; and SHRM adviser Pamela Kravitz, associate professor, participated in the 2008 SHRM Northeast Regional HR Games held at Bryant University, Rhode Island, in March. Competing in a Jeopardy-style game, the business students placed fourth against 23 other teams from schools such as Cornell and Penn State.

National Collegiate Sales Competition

Michael Heaney ’09, finance major, and Allen Soriano ’08, marketing major, advanced to the quarterfinals of the 10th Annual National Collegiate Sales Competition (NCSC) at Kennesaw State University in March. The goal of the NCSC is to be a positive and educational experience for all participants. Corporate sponsors have the opportunity to observe, interact with and recruit the top undergraduate sales students in the country and the NCSC provides student participants a venue to compete with their peers from other schools as well as to demonstrate their sales skills to our corporate partners.

Heaney and Soriano competed against 98 other students from 50 universities. They were awarded a $300 prize of a gift certificate for Tom James apparel, and both were heavily recruited by Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Standard Register, and Johnson and Johnson.

“The sales skills that we learned in class, and then developed in preparation for the event, were recognized by all of the sponsors,” said Soriano. “After competing, there were Fortune 500 companies hunting us down to let us know more about their programs. Who wouldn’t love having HP come find you to go out to dinner?”

“NCSC is the perfect venue for any student of business to finely tune their public speaking, networking, and interviewing skills,” added Heaney.

Phi Beta Lamda State Conference

Eight business majors at TCNJ received awards as part of the 32nd annual New Jersey Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference, held at Mercer County Community College on March 1. Phi Beta Lambda is the national honor society for business students. TCNJ competed along with Rider University, Rutgers University, and several community colleges.

The participants competed in different categories, such a business communication, finance, and international business at the all-day event. First- and second-place winners will be able to compete at the Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference in Atlanta in June.

Participants from TCNJ who will continue on to the national competition include Brian McCracken ’09, finance major; Jackie Silvestrov ’11, marketing major; Jessica Sevecke ’09, psychology major, who also won a $250 NJ FLBA-PBA scholarship; Shannon McGee ’09, finance pre-major; Mira Shah ’09, finance major; Michael Lamm ’10, psychology and business double major; Kathleen Murphy ’10, finance pre-major; Leann Sluzas ’11, open options business major.

The College and its students received a number of other awards that night, including Largest Local Chapter; Outstanding Member for Tiffany Cheng ’08, finance major; Outstanding Officer for Sevecke; and Scrapbook Award. Danielle Catona ’08, communications studies, and Michele Dean ’08, accounting, both took home $250 scholarships, and two TCNJ students were elected to state officer positions: Sevecke was named state president, and Dan Eckrote ’09, marketing, was named state membership director.

Tricia Wallace, professor of accounting and information systems, is TCNJ’s PBL adviser.

Lion’s Apprentice

The Entrepreneur Club Consulting Group took home the $500 top prize in the third annual Lion’s Apprentice, which took place throughout the fall semester. Modeled after the Donald Trump show The Apprentice, the TCNJ version creates an environment where “business gets real,” said Patty Karlowitsch ’06, manager of operations in the School of Business. The teams in TCNJ’s competition cater to real clients by participating in real-world challenges, which help develop teamwork, presentation, analysis, and networking skills.

Clients this year included the Trenton Devils hockey team, the Credit Union of New Jersey, the Trenton area Habitat for Humanity and Pantaluna. At the conclusion of each challenge, the client chooses the winner and the winning team receives a prize.

Flamur Rama ’08, political science and economics/finance double major, George Guhr ’08, international business and economics double major, and Sherry McKeever ’08, marketing major, made up this year’s winning team. Rama described one of the projects the team worked on. “We started off with the task of helping the local Trenton Devils hockey team get TCNJ students out to hockey games. We came up with the ‘Devils’ Experience,’ which entailed the Devils’ picking students up, driving them to the game, then to a night spot…and then back to campus.”

“I felt that [the Lion’s Apprentice Program] tested and demonstrated my competency as a business person and my ability to compete. It was an amazing experience and I bonded with my teammates along the way,” Rama said.

Serving as judges for this year’s competition were Alfred Pelham, associate professor of marketing; Lorraine Allen, director of TCNJ’s Small Business Development Center; Joanne Savino, director of marketing of the Savino Financial Group; and Jason Akers, financial representative at Savino. The judges graded each team on its presentation skills, grasp of the material, organization, analysis, persuasiveness, conclusion, and the quality of slides/handouts.

Fed Challenge Team

TCNJ’s Fed Challenge Team earned Fourth Place–Honorable Mention at the College Fed Challenge Second District Semi-finals on November 16. The team consisted of Jonathan Campos ’08, accountancy and finance double major; Flamur Rama ’08, political science and economics double major; Matt Ravaioli ’10, accountancy and finance double major; Manan Sampat ’10, biology and economics double major; and Brian Yarzab ’09, finance major.

TCNJ’s team was awarded $5,000, which includes $2,000 for the team and $3,000 for the School of Business.

The College Fed Challenge is intended to help students become more knowledgeable about the Fed and the decision-making process of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy-setting group.

RBI National Sales Challenge

TCNJ School of Business students placed fourth out of 17 university teams competing at William Patterson University’s Russ Berrie Institute National Sales Challenge in November 2007. Jacqui Town ’08, marketing and professional selling major; Allen Soriano ’09, biomedical engineering and professional selling double major; and Stephanie Cwynar ’09, marketing major, represented the College at the competition, which was held at William Paterson University. Town placed sixth overall out of 46 students competing in the competition.

“The opportunity to compete in three real-world business situations was invaluable. I learned so much [more] about myself as a salesperson than I ever could have in a classroom,” Town said of her experience.

“The RBI National Sales Challenge was truly an amazing experience,” Cwynar added. “Not only did we participate in a great hands-on experience, we were able to meet employers and students from all around the country.”

TCNJ’s team competed against teams from schools with larger sales education programs. The students against which Town, Soriano, and Cwynar competed typically had completed four to six sales courses, and were in the top one percent of 175 to 350 students majoring in sales at their respective institutions. When you consider the fact that Soriano and Cwynar had completed only one sales course, and Town was in the middle of her first sales course, at the time of the competition, it makes TCNJ’s showing in the competition that much more impressive.

The team was coached by Al Pelham, associate professor of management and marketing.

The College began a professional selling minor program three years ago. The program is one of only 27 Chally Verified university sales programs nationally. To date, 15 students have enrolled in the program or indicated intent to enroll. A small number of marketing majors have chosen sales courses for their emphasis area.

The goal of the RBI National Sales Challenge is to promote the sales profession by providing students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and capabilities in a series of sales challenges.

PwC xTAX Competition

The Pricewaterhouse Cooper xTAX (short for extreme tax) learning experience is designed to foster interest among students in the world of tax and provide them with exposure to a “real-world” tax case. In 2006, over 1,100 students from 30 colleges and universities participated.

This year was the first time that TCNJ students competed, and 30 students from the College took part in the challenge. The $1,000 first prize for teams from TCNJ went to Team Dilbert, whose members were Rachel Fetterman ’10, accountancy major; Matt Hiznay ’09, marketing and digital arts double major; Steve Kocher ’10, accounting major; Paul Staunton ’10, accountancy and finance double major; and Alison Weld ’10, sophomore accountancy major.

Hossein Nouri, professor of accountancy, served as the adviser for the event.

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